Student Agency – Fitting your own mask first
For many educators, teaching is a calling. It’s not a job or a paycheck, it’s in the blood. They are inspired to craft methods to draw the greatest potential from students, colleagues and themselves. This calling, however, can come at a price. There is always another lesson to plan, assignment to correct, and meeting to attend and it’s easy to become distracted with the mechanisms of teaching that can interfere with why we are there.
Teaching is like the safety instructions given to passengers at the start of a flight. “Although oxygen is flowing, secure your own mask first before helping others.” It’s easy to forget that taking care of yourself is, in fact, is taking care of your students. The work/life balance is never easy and can quickly tip either way, but you are better engaged with your students when you pay attention to the tension that can arise there.
The greatest educational resource you have is time. Beyond money, supplies, and technology, there’s never enough time for the workload most educators take on. We often feel guilty when we take time for ourselves, thinking it’s at a cost to our students. Consider this permission to not feel guilty to eat well, exercise and sleep more.
Although that will look different for everyone, this could be as simple as:
- Planning balanced meals rather than grabbing take-out.
- Going for walks before or after school.
- Getting that elusive seven to nine hours of sleep.
Recognize that you are a better educator with a healthy mind and body and the trade off is worth the investment.
How does this connect to the kids? I think it’s important to model good choices. Once I became a father, I would ask my own dad for advice and he would tell me, “They won’t listen to anything you say, but they’ll watch every single thing you do.”
Children pick up cues when the adults in their lives are stressed and can become stressed themselves.When students see their teachers well-rested, they know it is important. They pick up when a teacher comments on how tired they always are. When a teacher brings in a balanced lunch or hits the salad bar, that can model good choices beyond what they might see at home. Probably most important is the attitude they see toward the world around them. When the adults in their lives are positive and looking for the best in a situation, they may too.
One of the best things you can model for your students is taking the care you need to be well-rested, energized and ready to go! Commit to your work, take time for family, and make sure to take time for yourself.
Director of Student Agency EdTechTeam